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The Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) has disclosed that 1,825 officials obtain exceptional salary including 36 MPs and Ministers, 301 former MPs and ministers, 45 former and current member of Municipal Council, 78 senior officials at Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC), 73 mayors, 225 experienced figures (!), 93 individuals (?) and 605 officials at the Amiri Diwan, Crown Prince Diwan and Prime Minister Diwan.
According to MP Muhannad Al Sayer, the total annual cost of the exceptional salaries allocated for the abovementioned individuals is almost KD 2 billion in addition to the other amounts allocated for thousands of military personnel and the disabled. Thus the crack is to too deep.
All this is a fruit of Article 80 of the law on PIFSS which allows the government to grant exceptional salaries, much higher than their normal salaries in order to guarantee them to lead a prosperous lifestyle. Unfortunately, this article was enforced on widely that it covered huge number of officials and cost the public treasury a large amount of money.
For scores of years, none of the MPs objected to this illogic and unfair article. Perhaps MP Jenan Bushehri was the first to sound the alarm bell and then MP Muhannad Al Sayer is taking steps on the same course. This situation is neither moral nor it is fair and the solution is not as so easy. The first problem might concern adding control over Article 80 of the above-mentioned law, which means that squandering of public fund will continue without consideration to justice as it may define a specific annual number of beneficiaries according to specific requirements.
The response of PIFSS to the queries forwarded by MP Muhannad Al Sayer defined the annual amount of exceptional salaries at KD 1.867 billion while the total amount of pension, after subtracting the exceptional salaries, is KD 3 billion. I do not think suspending the exceptional salaries will not be easy since they have become part of the acquired rights of the beneficiaries who got used to lead a high life standard and considering the fact that obtaining those exceptional salaries is not their own fault.
The problem is in Article 80 and the problem is the misuse of it. It seems that the article was written deliberately in this form for those who wrote it to be among the beneficiaries later. The moral part of the issue is the MPs’ keeping silence for many years and their seeking to get advantage of it despite the fact that they being an MP is not aimed at receiving money or benefits. Parliamentary work is nearly voluntary national service rather than a profitable job.
Many of the MPs of that old good days abandoned their commercial businesses and senior positions and devoted full time to legislative task. How come, an MP whose duty is to make laws and monitor the government to submit a petition to Prime Minister requesting the latter to grant him exceptional salary?
The issue turns to be a tragicomedy when we figure out that among the MPs who submitted petitions to obtain exceptional salaries are those who keep on repeating patriot slogans and express their concern about public funds.
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e-mail: [email protected]
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf